My predictions for virtual reality in 2019
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Best VR headsets for 2019

Depending on who you ask, VR is either alive and well (and might just help keep you healthy), it's dead, dead, dead or, at the very least, a promise still unfulfilled. Since you're reading this, I'm guessing you're either the former or looking for new signs of life.

CES 2019, the huge Las Vegas consumer electronics show in January, did indeed give us some things to look forward to with virtual reality. But if you're interested in what you can get now to experience VR, I've picked out the best headsets we've tested below.

VR headsets come in a few different forms. There's the cheap headset that works with your phone and there's the much more expensive option that requires a powerful PC or gaming console and some space to move around. In between those are standalone headsets that are cordfree and don't require any additional external hardware to run them -- something we're sure to see more of in 2019. Keep reading to see the best options in each category.

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It Can Take You Places. One of the best experiences of virtual reality is using the technology to travel to places that you haven't been to. The right simulation can allow you to walk around some of the most important places around the world. In addition, virtual reality allows users to watch special documentaries that put them right in the middle of the action. Some of the top film companies are now producing documentaries made specifically for virtual reality headsets.

Tethered headsets

The best VR experiences currently require a tethered headset. This requires you to connect cords from the headset to a reasonably powerful computer for power, audio and running the software. And for some models you'll also need to run cables to your computer from camera sensors you'll place in your room that are used for head tracking. But that's the price you pay for unparalleled immersion. Here are some tips for keeping the cords out of your way.

Oculus Rift

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The well-designed and compact Oculus Rift is a top pick due to its great combination of controls and strong collection of software. The original $599 price has dropped significantly -- now $350, £399 and roughly AU$535 for both the headset and touch controllers -- but you'll still need a PC to run it.

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HTC Vive

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The HTC Vive offers up a better virtual reality experience than the Rift thanks to sharp visuals, great motion controls and full-room sensing to walk around in virtual space. It does, however, require more room to setup and use, it's more expensive at $500 and it, too, needs a high-end PC to drive the software and headset.

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It Can Add Excitement To Sports. Virtual reality can have a big impact in the world of sports. For fans, virtual reality provides the opportunity to watch a sporting event like never before. Fans can watch an entire game or match feeling like they are in the middle of it all. There have been some major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four that are already implementing virtual reality into their viewing options. This could be the future for all sports.

Sony Playstation VR

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If you already have or were considering buying a Playstation 4, this is a no-brainer. It is the most accessible, affordable and user-friendly full VR option on the market. It uses a single camera sensor unit for motion tracking simplifying setup, though it does mean the tracking isn't quite as good as the Rift or Vive. But at only $225 at the moment, it's hard to complain.

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Samsung HMD Odyssey+

To help deal with the space and computer requirements of VR headsets as well as their high costs, Microsoft developed Windows Mixed Reality headsets with its PC partners. WMR headsets use what's called inside-out tracking, so you don't need to setup camera sensors for motion tracking. They start at around $200 and they all have the same features for the most part. That is except for the Samsung, which is the best we've tested with features like built-in AKG headphones and high-res displays with a wider field of view than others.

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Mobile headsets

This is the place to start if you're still not sure how much you'll like or want to invest in VR. Since these headsets use your phone for the display and to run apps, they are the least expensive option and don't require room to use them and they're cordfree. Note that iPhone users are limited to simple viewers like Google Cardboard on the low end or nicer models like the Zeiss VR One Plus , which will work with Android devices as well. The ones we recommend offer more versatility, but are Android only.

Google Daydream View

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Essentially a nicer version of the barebones Cardboard, the Daydream View is comfortable to wear, works with a variety of new and old Android phones , the list of compatible apps continues to grow and at $60 it's affordable. It also has a controller to make navigating a snap.

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The First Commercial VR Devices – The EyePhone Head-Mounted Displays. In the late 1960s, the virtual and augmented reality terms were coined, describing the field of technology we know today. This also encompassed the appearance of two of the very first commercial virtual reality devices in the 1980s in the face of the EyePhone 1 and the EyePhone HRX. Developed by VPL research, a company by Jaron Lanier, the devices were extremely expensive, costing as much as $9,400 for the 1 version and $49,000 for the HRX. Customers could also buy gloves that costed $9,000. While the devices didn’t really take off, which is understanding, having in mind their price, they were a major step forward in the development of virtual reality haptics and virtual reality goggles and head-mounted displays.

Samsung Gear VR

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The biggest drawback to the Gear VR is that it only works with Samsung phones. If you've got one of those, this is the headset to get. Like Daydream View, the Gear VR comes with a controller for navigation and gameplay. Oculus powers the software and apps of Gear VR, bringing a large selection of compatible apps.

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Standalone headsets

We're finally starting to see standalone VR headsets, meaning they're cordfree and don't require a phone or PC to power them. The VR experience is basically a step up from the phone headsets, but well short of what you'll get with the full Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets.

Oculus Go

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The Go is essentially like using a phone headset, but without using your phone. It's relatively inexpensive at $200 considering everything's built in and includes a controller. The display inside looks sharp and the built-in speakers have convincing spatial audio. Plus, with hundreds of apps, you'll have plenty of content and games to explore right out of the box. A pumped-up $400 version called the Oculus Quest is expected this spring, so you may want to hold off all together.

Most People Haven't Tried It Yet. Virtual reality keeps growing in popularity. One study found that only one in three people in the United States have actually tried virtual reality. That means that there is still more room for acceptance among consumers in the country. On a positive note, nearly 90 percent of people were aware of virtual reality, which also means that many people have a basic understanding of the technology, even though they have not yet experienced it in person. The future is bright for the industry.

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